AMA Fest is aiming for 10,000 attendees in 2023 for the third edition of the festival.
We catch up with John Junior, one of the three organizers of AMA Fest, a UK festival dedicated to amapiano music. It was one of the first major amapiano-focused events outside of Africa and we believe this trend will continue over the next five years.
A festival dedicated purely to amapiano
Organized by John Junior, Ed James and Marlon Spence, they came up with the idea of festival purely dedicated to amapiano. The trio had a big vision for the party, especially in an outdoor venue, due to the COVID restrictions at the time.
“We met to discuss possible event ideas that we could collaborate on. The first idea was put aside, however the second idea, AMA Fest, was greeted with wide eyes and a smile. We wanted to build something incorporating the artists and DJs creating amapiano.”
“Our audience ranges predominantly from 20s to mid-30s. Guests are mostly of African descent from South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Zambia and Botswana.”
AMA Fest 2022 Recap: amapiano music, gqom and more
“On this year’s lineup, some of our heavy hitters included Felo Le Tee, Musa Keys, Uncle Waffles, Busiswa, Mellow & Sleazy and Pabi Cooper.”
But it wasn’t all amapiano. This year they introduced two new stages featuring Gqom, Kwaito, Afro house and soulful house.
The result is an eclectic event for everyone.
Details for next year’s AMA Fest 2023
According to DICE, AMA Fest 2023 will take place on September 2nd with the location yet to be revealed, with the price set at a reasonable 39 GBP. The organizers are expecting an audience of 10,000 people this coming year.
We ask John Junior about ideas for the lineup for AMA Fest 2023. His response reflects the fast-changing nature of the genre.
“Our lineup is curated 8 months before the event because the scene moves so fast. Today’s hit song is not tomorrow’s hit song.”
Other amapiano events by the organizers
The AMA team have also launched an accompanying brand Amapiano Allstar Weekend built around the festival. Their stated goal is to provide a more dynamic experience to engage with the sound and its listeners.
“In addition we launched a series named Groove Cyphers which we aim to grow a community of dancers that love to move to Amapiano and Gqom. We plan to make it the biggest Afro dance series on YouTube.”
Expanding the AMA Fest brand outside of the UK
AMA Fest also exists also outside of the UK. There are also plans to expand it to further countries seeing the growing popularity of the genre.
“We also host the festival in Ghana. The format is the same, however we have learnt it requires tweaking to suit the difference in marketplace and audience interest. There are plans in the making to rollout our festival in additional countries such as South Africa, Australia and the United States.”
John believes amapiano is here to stay for the foreseeable future.
“There is a whole generation engaging with the sound in Southern Africa that have high hopes of also getting a taste of worldwide success. Providing the love and passion for the sound continues it will grow and solidify itself as a standalone music genre”
“The United States has a huge influence over the widespread reach of music. Artists have begun to embrace the sound, however it is yet to reach the masses.”
We can only wait and see what will happen then. Or as our writer LeDug predicted in our last amapiano feature, “get ready to dance to amapiano music overlaid with autotuned Spanish.”